Top 5 Factors That Send Home Insurance Rates Higher

08 Mar

There are numerous factors that insurers consider when setting your homeowners premium. Everything from your credit score to how old your home is will impact your rates and these factors can either push your rates up or down. We thought it might be a good idea to have a look at a few items that can impact your homeowners insurance rates as well as things you can do to help keep your premium affordable.

Here are five factors that can result in higher homeowner insurance rates:

Natural disasters: This is a major rating factor and can dramatically increase your homeowner rate. If the area where you live is prone to flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes or other natural disasters you will pay higher rates. 

If your area has been impacted by more than one instance of severe flooding, hurricane, or wildfire in recent years, your premium could increase. In some cases, California is a good example, insurers may pull out of the area altogether, making it difficult to get any coverage at all. 

Depending on the type of risk, you may need an additional policy to fully protect your home. Flood and earthquake damage is always excluded from a standard homeowners policy and if your home is at risk from either you will need a separate policy or rider to be fully protected. Flood insurance can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or in the private market. Earthquake coverage is usually available as a rider to a standard policy. 

While both flood and earthquake insurance can be pricey, it can be a financial lifesaver if your home is severely damaged or destroyed by a flood or earthquake.

Living in a rural area: Fire is a major risk that insurers have to consider and how far you are located from a fire station is one factor that insurers look at when setting your rate. If you live out in the country and the nearest fire department is miles away, you will pay higher rates for coverage.

Minutes count when a house is on fire and if it will take the fire department a long time to reach your home your insurer will charge more to cover that risk. If your property if heavily wooded, you will also pay more for insurance and your insurer may require you to do some wildfire mitigation such as clearing an area around your home and laddering trees that are close to any structures. 

Your credit score: Credit scores have become a major rating factor for insurance and if you have a poor credit score you will absolutely pay more for homeowners (and all other types) of insurance. 

If your credit score is less than stellar, make efforts to improve it. Pay down as much debt as you can, pay credit card bills on time and close credit card accounts you no longer use. If your score improves over time, ask your insurer to run your rates to see if your premium is headed down. 

Old homes are a big risk: If your home is old you will most likely pay more for homeowners insurance. Ancient electrical and plumbing systems are more likely fail which can result in a fire or flooded basement if a pipe breaks. 

If you live in a very old home, upgrading your plumbing and electrical can be an excellent way to lower your insurance premium. While this can be a very expensive upgrade, it not only makes your home safer, but can absolutely impact your premium. 

Home improvements: Improving your home is never a bad idea and in some cases it will lower your premium (adding a security system or impact resistant roofing) but if you put a pool in the ground, add an outdoor kitchen or tack on an addition, your rates may be headed up. 

Pools are a huge risk, and your insurer will charge for that risk. Putting an addition on the house increases the square footage as well as the cost to rebuild the home so your insurer will adjust your premium. If you upgrade your home, you should always notify your insurer of the changes so they can readjust your premium. 

Tips to lower your premium

There are a number of things you can do to lower your premium. Here are just a few tips to keep your homeowners insurance affordable:

Shop your policy: This is probably the best way to lower your premium. Insurers rate risk differently which can result in dramatic differences in premium quotes. Shop at least five different insurers and always make sure you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to coverage levels and deductibles. Shop your home insurance rate quotes now for free!

Discounts: Insurers offer a wide variety of discounts so make sure you are getting every discount you are qualified to receive. Ask your insurer to do a discount review to make sure all discounts are being applied to your policy. 

Home upgrades: Adding a monitored security system, upgrading your roof or replacing your mechanicals with new ones can all result in a discount that can lower your premium. Check with your insurer to see what upgrades will result in a discount. 

Helpful Article: Can Renovations Affect Home Insurance Costs?